To say that I have never felt beautiful would be a lie. Thanks to the wonderful love of my husband and my children, I have felt beautiful. However, feeling beautiful and feeling pretty are two completely different things and most of the time I feel so damn unpretty.
I have never really felt pretty. Perhaps, I wasn't shown how.
At 7 years old, my innocence was stolen from me. Not once, but twice. Once in my own bed and once again in the bed at the foster home where I was supposed to be safe. That night, in the foster home, I was told that I was garbage. I was damaged, tainted and no one would ever want me. Those words have echoed in my subconscious ever since. That night, my pretty disappeared. I put up walls that included unhappiness and a lot of weight.
My mom was busy. Busy providing us with shelter and food. Working two, sometimes three jobs, while raising us and dealing with issues of her own. Teaching me how to “feel pretty” wasn't a priority.
My father, if you want to call him that, never made me feel beautiful or pretty. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I was too fat to be his daughter. (His words not mine.) I wasn't pretty like the other girl he fathered. I wasn't pretty… He thought he would help me lose weight by making me jog home from school while he drove behind me revving the engine. He told me I was even uglier when I cried.
By the time I got to middle school and junior high, I had no idea how to be “pretty” and none of the girls there cared to show me either. I was fat, wore my brother's hand me downs, didn't know how to do my hair or make-up and was just so damn unpretty.
I spent my teen years deflecting the taunts and bullying with humor and brute force, secretly wishing that I knew how to be pretty. No one would show me. I was also too scared to ask.
Now, as an adult, I have felt beautiful. My husband, he makes me feel beautiful EVERY day. My kids, they tell me I am the most beautiful mom. I love when I feel beautiful, but I still feel so damn unpretty.
I don't know how to dress my morbidly obese body.
(Jeans, pajama pants and t-shirts are all I know!)
I don't know how to style my hair.
(I am slowly learning, but still have no clue. Just a lot of hairspray!)
I don't know how to do my make-up.
(Black pencil eyeliner, you're my only friend!)
I don't know how to smile.
(How do you smile without teeth?)
I don't know how to feel pretty.
(It's a work in progress.)
I pretend that I don't care about being “pretty”, but I do. Everything in society makes sure that I do.
Feeling beautiful is amazing and is a huge step for me, but how do I feel pretty?
What is pretty and how do I do it? Why does society put so much stock in pretty? How do I teach my daughter, when I myself, don't know?